Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 1492-1

  1. Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 1492-1914? The USA is often shown to be uniquely "evil" because of the extermination of the Indians, and African slavery. A fair estimate would be 2 million Indians and .5 million African dead. So I'm curious to know to what extent this death toll is unique to USA and to what extent it was simply part of the global process of the birth of capitalism and imperialism. So I would like to know how the death toll of the European empires compares to US settlerism. For the sake of my question, all British actions in the future USA should be counted as part of the US rather than UK stats. Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    You could also mention the Ottoman Empire, whose massacres throughout the ages far exceeded that of the US.

    To take ONE of many gruesome features here:
    The eunuch trade from Africa.

    African boys were typically undergoing FULL castration (Circassians and Europeans merely lost their testicles), where more than 90% died from primary blood loss or resultant infections.

    Kmowing that in the 1820s, when statistics come to our aid, about a 1000 eunuchs a year were placed on the market, meaning that 10.000 boys were yearly slaughtered in the eunuch-making rituals.

    Multiplying that figure with, say, 300 years for the time period you were interested in, yields 3 million dead 10-year old boys (that was their typical age).
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  4. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    Not to minimize the situation, but most 'excess' Native American deaths from 1492 and 1914 were due to infectious diseases brought by Europeans. I use the term 'excess' to define those deaths that would not have occurred had the Europeans never arrived.
    http://www.thefurtrapper.com/indian_smallpox.htm

    The British, French, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese all engaged in the African slave trade. Most of this trade was with African partners.

    http://africanhistory.about.com/od/slavery/tp/TransAtlantic001.htm
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2009
  5. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    And the Arab slave trade in Africa lasted for a much longer period, with vastly more individuals afflicted.

    If, for example, we regard the ones sought for eunuch-hood (whether the died or not) as a tenth of the whole enslaved, that would mean 30 million enslaved in a 300-year period, or easily 100 million for the whole Islamic period.

    Just to get the scale of stuff..
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009
  6. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    I am surprised no one has mentioned the Spanish or Portugese Empires in the Americas. Certainly they brought the usual European deseases with them, yet their depredations are famous. The Portugese were that bad that even the Chruch declared a huge section of the Amazon jungle as a place only for the indigeneous peoples. Central Brazil still shows some effects of that.

    As for colonial expansion, it was not limited to the Europeans - the Inca also amassed quite a territory and were .... less than pleseant to the conquered, even if they transported no foreign sicknesses.
     
  7. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    I mentioned them in post 3.
     
  8. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    Indeed you did, even if it was just in passing ......

    Later today I shall scout about to find the 'link' - but last evening I read that within 2 years of Columbus' arrival in the new world, 100,000 of the indigenous people died. This would have had to be from the imported diseases - and may take some clarification.

    Does 'reckless disregard', as in a result of but not necessarily planned for, count for our purposes here?
     
  9. Hurkyl

    Hurkyl 16,090
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    Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    That's an odd definition of "reckless disregard"....
     
  10. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    Is that not the charge that they use every second week on Law and Order? When all else fails, they seem to go to that ..... If they cannot get someone on a charge of some degree of murder - they go to 'reckless disregard'. I am Canadian and do not know if there is such a charge here .... and I understand that it is rarely used out side of television in the US, but the concept is useful.

    Cortez certainly was reckless and his disregard for the lives of the residents of the new world is legendary.
     
  11. Hurkyl

    Hurkyl 16,090
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    Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    He was no such thing. You can't disregard knowledge that doesn't exist, let alone do so recklessly! It is not reasonable to condemn him for spreading disease. (Unless, of course, you have some relevant knowledge I don't)
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  12. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14


    What nonsense.

    Insofar as "reckless disregard" is to be imputed to the Spaniards on accounts of disease exposure, then it concerns how they knowingly exposed/coerced OTHER Spaniards to emigrate into a country where they died in the thousands due to exposure to indigenous diseases.
    For many immigrant communities, the death rates were extremely high, easily reaching the death rates of the indigenous population.


    The reason why the OTHER disease exposure was, in the long term, more catastrophic is that the primary population pool of the Americans was infected, whereas the primary population poool of the Europeans was safely tucked away in..Europe.
     
  13. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    If you would care to reread my post - you could see that it is posed as a question - as in I am asking if the disease caused deaths can be included in our purview. If you take questions as "what nonsense" - so be it.

    Cortes and his Spaniards very famously killed one and all that stood in their way of obtaining gold - outright killing, starving and enslaving hundreds of thousands - if not purposefully infecting with diseases, at least setting up the conditions so illness could take its' toll. Do I believe they knew what they were doing? Of course they did. But that is for another discussion forum.

    As I understand the question (check now in the first post) it asks which empire's expansion after 1492 resulted in the most deaths - no mention of where, no mention of blame, my use of 'reckless disregard' referred to the method, not to any cupidity - sorry if you misunderstood.

    May I suggest Mortimer J. Adler: How To Read A Book a bit old but still valuable.
     
  14. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    Totally wrong, the logistics doesn't add up.

    Cortes had just a couple of hundred men with him.

    The mass killings of the Incas (who practiced human sacrifice) are due to the oppressed, previously terrified inhabitants, who, sparked by the new hope represented by the new invaders, set out to topple that regime of terror.
    AND, of course, due to the ravages of disease.

    That their new "saviours" turned out to be a despicable, greedy lot instead doesn't change one whit of this historical dynamic

    EDIT:
    Ooops!
    Cortes "did" the Aztecs, rather than the Incas, and the argument I gave suits Cortes even better than it also does for Pizarro.
    That he actually had 550, rather than a "couple of hundred" men doesn't invalidate the argument, either.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  15. mheslep

    mheslep 3,379
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  16. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14


    nheslep - that is a very enjoyable book .... :smile: I bought it at an air port and (unfortunately) left it on the plane upon deboarding :grumpy:. But had managed to read most of it.

    I may be wrong here, but the 'discussion' is about the imperial expansion that resulted in the most most colonial deaths between 1492 and WWI. I guess my position is that Imperial Expansion brought Cortes and Pizzaro to the new World and that brought diseases. They also became the rulers of this new world and their policies only exacerbated the already mentioned problems. This continued up to the Monroe Doctrine (1823) - when Spain and Portugal were pretty well finished in the Americas, anyway.

    No, the indigenous peoples were not nice to each other - but then neither did the central African tribes get along well with each other. The rush for Empire did not really intrude into Africa until long after the South American conquest - but the inter tribal warfare (and attendant slave trade) managed to kill millions there too.
     
  17. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    Good God! The things they never taught me in high school...
     
  18. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    Well, I have no authority on this except that I'm an avid student of the history of empires, but I would get the Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) and--believe it or not--the Belgians may win this one.

    The two Iberian powers ruled over most of the Americas, and did so with a brutality probably worse than the French, British, or Americans. They used slave labor extensively, and even more cruelly, than the Anglo-American powers did-- see the Potosi Mine for one example of this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potosí), or the extensive sugar plantations throughout the Caribbean.

    The Belgians are notorious mostly for one king, and one place: King Leopold II's Congo. It was the King's private property, more or less, and he raped it so horribly that the Belgian Congress had to wrest control from him eventually. Altogether, it is estimated that AT LEAST 10 million people died under his reign from being worked to death or massacred--not to mention some of its possible echoes in things like the Rwandan genocide. This is an excellent book on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Leopold's_Ghost and here's a further link on the Belgian congo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Free_State

    Hope this helps. Don't forget the British, either. They weren't the cruelest, but they were by far the largest empire, which adds up.
     
  19. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    A little off topic, but worth noting that comparing the levels of killing and destruction of different regimes is often used to claim or at least suggest legitimacy for one regime vis-a-vis another, as if killing or torturing isn't as bad when it's less people than more.

    Also, how arrogant and rude is it to claim superiority by identification with one regime over another, or to regard others according to historical events attributed to their ethnicity?

    Historically and sociologically, I think far more interesting than sheer numbers of killings or other forms of victimization are the ideologies for legitimating such atrocities and how those legitimations come to shape subsequent ideologies. The fact that US racial ideologies have long outlived slavery, for example, or that European nationalism and socialism have outlived national-socialism suggest a complex relationship between atrocities and their subsequent cultural momentum.
     
  20. mheslep

    mheslep 3,379
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    Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    That's a fact? What' is 'US' about racial ideologies you refer to there?
     
  21. Re: Which empire's imperial expansion resulted in the most colonial deaths between 14

    Maybe I should have said "ideologies of racial difference in US-societal imagery."

    What I mean is that race was not deconstructed at the same time slavery was banished. It's not like everyone went, "ok, slavery lost and since it turns out that everyone is created equal, even slaves, they must all be the same (human) race too."

    Racializing propaganda actually grew following the end of slavery, either out of fear for racial mixing, the intent for former-slaves to maintain a class-status position that would keep them doing the same kind of work they did as slaves, or both.

    Is that better?
     
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